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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Have a Cold One in the Florida Keys...(Beershake, that is!)

This is my photo from 2013
Last year on the way to Key West BrewFest (2013), I stopped at M.E.A.T. (Meat Eatery and Tap Room), located at Plaza 88, Mile Marker 88, on US 1 in Islamorada, Florida Keys, to get a beershake that I had heard about.  (See blog post dated 9/8/2013).  I absolutely loved it and promised that I would be back. 

Well, I am one to keep promises of course, so on my latest trip to the Keys (September 2014), I made a point to stop at M.E.A.T. to get another mouth-watering Beershake. Can you say "Anticipation"?

Last time I had the beershake, it was made with Well's Banana Bread Ale (yeah, it was a taste bud tantalizing treat). Just before my recent trip, MEAT had posted that it was currently preparing the beershake with Southern Tier Brewing's Creme Brulee.  That beer is awesome in its own right, and the thought of this beershake caused a lot of excitement.  Now, I've done beer floats and beer-n-donut pairings here in St. Augustine, but a beershake with Creme Brulee?  Yeah, it was definitely on the list of things I had to do on this vacation. Well, I saved the visit for the last night of the trip, and it was the perfect ending.

So, here it is:  Beershake with Southern Tier Brewing's Creme Brulee Imperial Milk Stout (4 oz), vanilla ice cream, and whipped cream. Calories be damned (and, really, I didn't care), this is one tastebud treat that you can't miss!  A lot of oooh's and aaah's here, to be sure.  I could probably get a little more graphic, but you get the idea.


But, hey, M.E.A.T. also has quite a good selection of craft beers on tap, too.  On this night, the tap list included Hofbrau German pilsner, Sweetwater 420, Funky Buddha Hop Gun IPA, Chimay, Bell's Amber, Palm Belgium Ale, Anchor Steam Summer Ale, Full Sail Black Lager, and of course, Southern Tier Creme Brulee. 



Also, check out this food menu:  lobster mac n cheese, Maine Lobster Roll, chicken basket, hot dogs, a number of burger variations, brats, sausages, pulled pork, and micro brewed root beer.   Check out the menu and more at www.meateatery.com. Some creative stuff here ("truffle bistro fries" with truffle oil, parmesan and rosemary?  yummmmmm).

It's a cool little place, and hey, you gotta dig this:


There's also a second location in Boca Raton.

Chef George, I'll be back for the beershake next time I'm in the Keys: you can count on it.  I'll be looking forward to it!  If you are driving along US 1, make sure you give this place a stop.  The restaurant patrons seemed plenty happy!

Til next time!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Slingin' in the Rain .... It Poured at Rocky Water Brew Fest!





The drive south on I-95 from St. Augustine on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 20 was a bit ominous: dark skies, rainy interludes, a peek of sun providing some glimmer of optimism, followed by generally gray cloud cover. I had this marked on the calendar for a while, and it was a definite go:  the first Rocky Water Brew Fest in Melbourne. (Do we say "first annual"?)


Presented by the Eau Gallie Rotary Club, the fest offered "a collection of the finest craft beer from small breweries all over the state of Florida."  And, I'll just cut to the chase here: mission accomplished!



The venue, Eau Gallie Square, is a nice little park along Highland Avenue in the Eau Gallie Arts District of Melbourne.  That part of Highland Ave. was closed to vehicle traffic; beer tents lined the street and the perimeter of the square. Several food trucks were on site to satisfy munchies and hunger cravings as well.  There was plenty of room to move around.  Free parking was available in various nearby public lots, as well as some on-street parking on adjacent streets.

Enough logistics, let's talk beer!  The brewery list was quite impressive from the get-go, and these brewers brought some high quality brew. Some of them even had multiple tappings going on.  So, what do you notice about the breweries? Uh-huh: all Florida. While I really missed being "on the other side of the jockey box" this time around, I was able to wander around and do a lot of sampling.  I saw some familiar faces pouring the beer under the tents, sampled some beers I already knew I like, and also tried some new ones. One of my new favorites was the Unkindness Black IPA from Barley Mow BrewingThis was the first time I had one of their beers, and what a good first impression, I must say! I think the Untappd servers must have maxed out.  Being from the Jacksonville area, it was great to see Engine 15, Green Room Brewing, and Aardwolf Brewing on site, and it's always good to see those beers and guys from nearby Ormond BrewingNew Smyrna Beach Brewing, and Tomoka Brewery (you know who you are, but I always love seeing Luch and Sean from E15, Eric from Green Room, Chris from New Smyrna, and Ed (Volusia Beer Guy) and Peter from Tomoka). 

Barley Mow Unkindness Black IPA


Also, it was good to see the up and coming Playalinda Brewing from Titusville, as well as the newly opened Orchid Island Brewery from Vero Beach.  Trevor Brewer from Brewers' Law even did some pouring for Playalinda. I stopped by twice, but he was so busy, I didn't get the chance to talk (won't get away so easy next time, Trevor!).

The rain held off for a while, and then the skies opened up.  Lots of rain ponchos, umbrellas and huddling under trees.  But, this was a determined bunch, and the rain didn't keep any of us away from the beer tents! The fest ran til 5pm, and somewhere along the way, the sun even came out.

All in all, the rain probably gave us all something to talk about, and it didn't "damper" (sorry) our spirits.  

Great job, Eau Gallie Rotary!

After the fest, I had a chance to talk with Tom Richards, BrewFest Chairman, and correspond with Brian Laughlin, a Rotary Club fest committee member, about this fest. According to Tom, the intent of this fest was to present a "brewers' festival" that mainly showcased our smaller Florida breweries. They wanted the attendees to have a positive experience and not stand in lines that were too long. They even included a local Florida wine distributor on site for those who still haven't seen the light of craft beer. Tom and Brian were quick to give many thanks to the guys over at Intracoastal Brewing Company, especially John Curtis, for helping to make this fest happen and for making the rounds over the past several months to visit the Florida breweries and obtain attendance commitments. Talk about collaboration! Intracoastal was the main brewery sponsor, and if you didn't know, it is located just down the street from the Eau Gallie Square.  There was even a big party the night before at Intracoastal to feature the brewers. (I was doing a 5k at EverBank Field, so I didn't make that).

Rotary was happy with the attendance, which it estimated at around 1100. It probably would have sold out if the weather and forecast had been a little less daunting.  Rotary worked on the planning of this event  since the beginning of the year.  Following an upcoming wrap-up meeting, Rotary will look forward to the "Second Annual Rocky Water Brew Fest" with some "gradual expansion." This is good news, so mark your calendars for September 2015 and stay tuned for more info on that front. I had recently visited Melbourne,  Cocoa Beach and Merritt Island (see prior blog post), so I can tell you that there are good breweries in the Space Coast area, along with nice beaches. You might even want to make a few days of it!


From the Rocky Water Brew Fest Facebook page
Proceeds from the beerfest go back to Eau Gallie Rotary, which will distribute funds to various charities, including several children-focused organizations.  I have worked with several Rotary chapters as a beer sponsor, and the Rotary members are dedicated to community.  

And, in case you were wondering, the name of the fest comes from the translation of "Eau Gallie." 

Lastly, I'd like to reiterate the saying that "beer people are good people."  While taking off/putting on rain gear several times, I left my shoulder clutch hanging on a park bench  in the Square.  Good thing I had my phone on me, because someone found my bag and called me.  I walked over to the park bench, met the group, and was reunited with my bag.  It didn't leave my shoulder the rest of the time.  Thanks so very, very much!

Til next time!  Cheers!